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Customer Review

42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I can assure you everything is under control.", September 22, 2005
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This review is from: Over the Edge (1979) (DVD)
I first saw Over the Edge (1979) on cable way back in the early 80s, and it really spoke to me as a mischevious young punk...years passed and I subsequently forgot the name of the film (for some reason, I kept thinking it was called The Kids are Alright), but managed to find it again on a fluke in a video store about ten years, after years of waiting, someone finally got it together and released it to DVD. Co-written by Charles S. Haas (Tex, Gremlins 2: The New Batch) and Tim Hunter (River's Edge), and directed by Jonathan Kaplan (Truck Turner, White Line Fever), the film features Michael Eric Kramer (Return to Horror High, Project X) and the silver screen debut of a young Matt Dillon (My Bodyguard, The Outsiders, Rumble Fish). Also appearing is Pamela Ludwig (Dead Man Walking), Vincent Spano (Creator, Alive), Tom Fergus, Harry Northup (Used Cars, The Silence of the Lambs), Ellen Geer (Harold and Maude), daughter of legendary actor Will Geer, and Andy Romano (Pump Up the Volume, Under Siege).

As the film begins we see a sign welcoming us to New Granada, "Tomorrow's City...Today"'s one of those suburban communities made up of condos and town homes, created so that people could escape the city...and then some text comes on the screen informing us that in 1978, 110,000 kids under the age of 18 were arrested for crimes of vandalism in the United States...the more things change, the more they stay the same...I don't know what that means, but it sounded cool, didn't it? Anyway, we also learn the film is based on actual events, where those responsible for planning the community neglected the fact that nearly a quarter of the population was under the age of fifteen. After this we meet Carl (Kramer) and Richie (Dillon)...Carl's an intelligent kid, who shares a nice town home with his parents, Fred (Romano) and Sandra (Geer) Willat, his father owning the local Cadillac dealership. Richie, on the other hand, is somewhat of a punk, his parents split up, living with his mother and younger brother in low-income apartment housing, and it seems he's always in trouble with the local authorities. Anyway, the two boys are friends living in the city of New Granada, where there is practically nothing to do except hang out at the local teen recreational center and get annoy the adults. After the pair get picked up by the authorities, which mainly consists of a policeman named Sergeant Doberman (Northup), for a serious incident they weren't involved in, the school board initiates some stringent, new rules for the kids, including curfew. Also, we find out the local community planners (including Carl's father) are hoping to draw in outside investors to develop the land the recreational center is located on, into some kind of business park, which would essentially eliminate one of the last refuges for the kids, but the deal gets nixed after the investors realize the extent of the juvenile delinquency problem in New Granada. After a particularly serious incident between Doberman and a boy, the adults hold an emergency meeting within the school to point fingers at each other, and the disenfranchised youth come together, lock the grown-ups in the school, and mayhem ensues...

I think one of the things I liked about this film is the fact the characters, dialog, and the performances by the actors all seem very genuine, like people you might know in real life. There's accessibility here, no matter which point of view you're coming from, whether it's the adults or the children, as the problems aren't really shown to be stemming from one side or another, but a combination of factors that continuously build up, eventually exploding, spewing forth a torrent of anger and resentment in the form of wanton destruction and unfettered violence. Films about juvenile delinquency (JD) are nothing new (High School Confidential! Was released in 1958), but where many are exploitive by nature, this one has a bit of a documentary feel, even though the trailer tries to push the exploitive aspects, including using the line "Old enough to know better, too young to care". It's funny, but after watching the film again last night after so many years, a part of me actually felt sympathetic towards the character of Officer Doberman...oh, I'll grant you he was a real tool, one prone to consistently abusing his authority, especially towards the kids, but if you take a deep, hard look you'll see he's a character completely out of his depth, lacking the necessary faculties to deal with the growing issues involving the kids. His `solutions' always consisted of tighter controls, more rules, and stricter enforcement, things that would only aggravate the problems he's trying to contend with...and Doberman may have been a tool, but he was an obvious one...unlike that of Jerry Cole, who seemed to be the main guy in charge for planning and development for New Granada. Check out the scene near the end when the adults are having the emergency meeting and Jerry proceeds to dole out the blame, with absolutely none reserved for himself despite the fact he's probably one of primary causes specifically due to his and his colleague's short-sightedness in developing the community with little, or no, consideration towards the youth population. Someone eventually calls him out on this, specifically when he's talking about poor growth within the community, and how the issues will affect property resale values, despite the fact the meeting was supposed to be about the problems in the community with the children, who they tend to view as a liability rather than a part of the community. The story is pretty serious, but it does feature some humor, one of the funniest parts for me being when Carl's classmate and friend Claude (Fergus) lets Carl know he took some speed prior to coming to school to prepare for a test. While in class, the kids find out the test involves looking at a projected slide of painting, and this is when Claude realizes that, instead of speed, he dropped acid and it's beginning to kick in...and get this, the painting on the slide is by Salvador Dali...the story moves along well, features a lot of interesting characters, is relatable and relevant (even after some 25 years), and includes exceptionally appropriate music from such bands as Cheap Trick, Van Halen, The Ramones, The Cars, and Jimi Hendrix, among others. It's really amazing how much a well thought out and chosen soundtrack can help drive a story as it does here (I loved the Jimi Hendrix tune blasting in the Bronco during the chase sequence)...and really, the original scoring, which was done by the director's father, Sol Kaplan, is pretty good, too...all in all this is a great little film, full of heart, and worth catching if you can...

The picture quality on this DVD, presented in widescreen (1.85:1), enhanced for 16X9 TVs, looks very clean and sharp, and the Dolby Digital mono comes though most excellent. Special features are limited to a commentary track with the director Jonathan Kaplan, screenwriters Charles S. Haas and Tim Hunter, and producer George Litto, and a trailer for the film. Could they have done more? I suppose, but after waiting for as long as I have (this film has been out of print on VHS for awhile) for a DVD release, I'm just glad it finally got released, and more people will have an opportunity to see it...


By the way, who knew Vincent Spano was such a punk in his youth?
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 6, 2007 2:03:44 PM PDT
ZOMGPWN! says:
I think the painting is by Hieronymus Bosch.

That is a great scene though.

Posted on Jun 5, 2007 9:10:44 AM PDT
This was a great review! Couldn't have said it better. You rock!

Posted on Apr 6, 2008 1:29:39 PM PDT
D. Daluga says:
It took me as long to read your review as it did to watch the movie, try brevity.

Posted on May 24, 2008 11:01:16 AM PDT
GenXmom says:
I, too, watched this movie as a teenager when it was first shown on HBO. I related it to it so much, that I watched it every single time it was on. It's funny, because I actually hadn't thought about the movie in years, until the other day in the supermarket, when the song "Ooh Child" came over the sound system, and all I could picture was the end of the movie. My own teenage daughter was with me at the time, and I told her about the movie, and how it captured what it was like to be a teenager in the Bay Area in the late '70s. Now she wants to see it, and I am looking forward to seeing it again for the first time in over 25 years. I haven't found it for rent anywhere, so I may end up buying it off Amazon or something...

Posted on Dec 4, 2009 9:48:04 PM PST
jack says:
"The Kids Are Alright" is a Who movie from the same year.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 14, 2011 10:05:17 AM PDT
It's called The Garden of Earthly Delights. Here's a link

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2012 2:49:50 AM PST
elleemann says:
I agree. Most people interested in a movie don't want to read the whole story before they see it. It's called a "spoiler" for a reason....

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 26, 2014 7:50:49 AM PDT
Triggah says:
I think most people who are interested in this movie have already seen it on HBO when it was shown all the time between Goldie Hawn and Dudley Moore movies. Back then Chevy Chase was the man.
I was in the 6th grade and like the author saw it many times but could not remember the name for a couple decades.
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